The Golden Touch

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"Is the richest man in all the world to starve to death?!"

"Give me gold, not advice!"


The Golden Touch is a 1935 Silly Symphonies short directed by Walt Disney, and was the last cartoon he ever directed, for reasons explained below.

The plot is similar to the original King Midas fable, albeit updating it from Ancient Greece to the times of Medieval Europe, obviously to keep in vogue with the fairy tale settings of the Silly Symphonies. The short begins with King Midas bragging and singing about his vast riches, which prompts a smug little elf called Goldie to appear and give him the Golden Touch, albeit with warnings that Midas ignores. Initially, Midas is thrilled at his newfound gift, but quickly discovers its side effects when he discovers that it turns whatever he eats or drinks into gold, prompting a Villainous Breakdown and him surrendering his power, kingdom and riches for something to eat.

The short is notable if just for the scorn it received from Walt himself. Apparently, during the making of Snow White, Walt realized that it had been years since he had last directed a short cartoon, and decided to try it again with this cartoon to see whether he was good enough to direct Snow White himself. Unfortunately, upon release, "The Golden Touch" was an immediate flop. Reasons included that the short was stiff and lethargically paced, and that Midas came off as too one-dimensional and too unsympathetic for audiences to care about him. As such, Walt immediately disowned the cartoon and forbade anybody from ever bringing it up around the studio. This failure was also so hard on him that he gave up directing cartoons altogether, stepping aside to become a full-time producer.

Tropes used in The Golden Touch include:
  • Adipose Rex: King Midas.
  • And I Must Scream: It's implied that the cat was fully aware when he was turned into gold.
  • Anti-Villain: King Midas.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Midas gives up his whole kingdom and riches to Goldie, all just so that he can have a sandwich to eat. Fortunately, he gets just that.
  • Blessed with Suck: Midas, when he realizes that the Golden Touch will turn anything he tries to eat or drink into gold.
  • Foreshadowing: King Midas's reflection moves on it's own... And then he notices it, for the reflection to get right back into place. The Grim Reaper than appears later on as his reflection.
  • The Grim Reaper: A golden version of him appears during Midas' breakdown.
  • Ironic Echo: "Give me gold, not advice!"
  • Karmic Trickster: Goldie.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Almost done in the end when Goldie nearly takes Midas' clothes, but his begging to spare him those is heeded.
  • Our Elves Are Better: This one can give you the Golden Touch.
  • Plot Hole: There are some blatant inconsistencies with what Midas can turn to gold with his touch or not. For example, he can touch his cape and not turn it into gold, yet he can touch his tooth and turn it to gold without harming his body. Also, how can his cat turn to gold just by Midas touching the tree he's on, yet Midas' castle dosen't turn to gold just from touching anything in it?
  • Smug Snake: Goldie.
  • Anti-Villainous Breakdown: Midas when he realizes he can't eat anything.
  • Anti-Villain Song: The opening song, as well as the little ditty Midas sings when he discovers the power of the Golden Touch.